As one of the most versatile SUVs on the market, the Ford Explorer is driven by people all over, both on- and off-road. But what are the best tires for it?

The best tires on the market for your Ford Explorer will depend on the type of tire you want, the performance you’re hoping to get, and how much you’re willing to spend. As you search, use this guide as your most useful resource in finding the perfect tires for your Ford Explorer.

Tires will eventually wear out. Your’s, mine, everyone’s. No matter how well we maintain them and try to extend their life. So at some point, you’ll need to get some new tires for your Ford Explorer. But which ones should you go with? To help drastically narrow your search, we’ve combed through the hundreds of options out there and come up with this comprehensive guide of the 8 best tires on the market for a Ford Explorer.

The information and recommendations that you find in this article are the results of hours spent researching tires, talking with experts in the automotive industry, and sifting through customer reviews of people who’ve owned these very tires. So you can rest assured knowing that the information you find here is all high-quality, direct from the source.

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8 Best Tires For Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer has been a mainstay of both Ford and many families across the country since its introduction back in 1991. Since then, the Explorer has received many updates and gone through seemingly countless changes. But as things go on, some things stay the same. One such thing is the need to eventually change out the tires.

As the Explorer has grown in popularity, its versatility has seemingly increased right alongside it. It can be used as a highway-oriented daily driver, an off-road warrior, and anything in between. That said, there are seemingly endless tire options out there to choose from.

Some people might want a high-quality all-season for everyday use while others may focus on a highway or touring tire for their long drives on the interstate. Or some Explorer owners might want to get into some all-terrains and be able to take it off-road at a moment’s notice. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find a great option in this guide.

So let’s get into what you’re really here for — here are the best tires available for your Ford Explorer:

Tire Type Tire
All-Season Michelin Premier LTX
Touring Continental CrossContact LX20
Winter Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2
Highway Michelin Defender LTX M/S
Performance Street Falken Ziex STZ05
All-Terrain Cooper Discoverer AT3 4S
Temporary Spare Ironman RB-SUV
OEM Hankook Kinergy GT

Michelin Premier LTX — Best All-Season

For the best combination of all-season traction capabilities, comfort, and long-lasting tread life, look no further than the Michelin Premier LTX. There are options on the market with a longer tread life warranty, sure, but when it comes down to the total tire package, there is no comparison.

With Michelin’s proprietary EverGrip tread compound, the Premier LTX offers superb traction on all road conditions, including light snow. This same technology also greatly reduces the stopping distance under hard wet-braking conditions.

Sunflower oil enriched tread compound enables the Premier LTX to find traction on any surface throughout all temperature ranges, so it’s the ideal all-season tire for a Ford Explorer to have on all year long.

The Premier LTX is classified as a Michelin Total Performance tire, which means it does it all — great stopping power, responsive steering and tight control, and reduced rolling resistance to increase fuel efficiency.

Offered in tire sizes from a 16” wheel diameter up through 22” wheels, the Premier LTX will fit every model and trim of Ford Explorer over the past decade, and likely even older models.

Where To Buy Michelin Premier LTX

Discount Tire Tire Buyer Tire Rack

Specifications

Some specifications may vary based on the exact tire size selected.

  • Warranty: 60,000 miles
  • Max Load Capacity: 1,929lbs
  • Max Inflation Pressure: 44 psi
  • Tread Depth: 9/32”
  • Tire Weight: 28 lbs
  • UTQG Treadwear: 620
  • UTQG Traction: A
  • UTQG Temperature: A
  • EverGrip tread compound increases traction and enhances wet-braking
  • Grooves and sipes provide excellent traction in rain and light snow

FAQ

What is the tread life warranty?

The Michelin Premier LTX has a 60,000-mile tread life warranty. While not the longest tread life warranty in its class (not even the longest from Michelin in its class), the Premier LTX offers enhanced all-season capabilities and comfort compared to its contemporaries.

Can I take this tire off-road?

Although this is an all-season tire, it is not an all-terrain tire. That said, if you need to take your Explorer down a dirt road on occasion, the Premier LTX will do fine. But if you plan on going off-road a lot, we suggest looking into an all-terrain tire — which you’ll find below.

Can this tire be used in the snow?

The Premier LTX uses EverGrip technology to find traction in just about all road conditions, including light snow. A dedicated winter tire will perform better over the course of a whole winter, but the Premier LTX will outperform most tires in its class in snow.

Continental CrossContact LX20 — Best Touring

When searching for a touring tire for a Ford Explorer, there are two things that are more important than anything else — tread life and comfort. After all, touring tires are meant to really be driven on, so they should last a long time and offer a comfortable ride.

When it comes to the Ford Explorer, the best touring tire on the market is the Continental CrossContact LX20. To start, the CrossContact LX20 uses ComfortRide Technology, employing a comfort band underneath the tread to reduce noise and vibration.

Second, Continental has developed their proprietary EcoPlus technology that makes the tires last longer (typically even more than the 70,000-mile warranty) while simultaneously improving the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. How about that for a touring tire?

The CrossContact LX20 is also an all-season tire, enabling it to provide traction, stability, and reliable handling throughout the year on dry, wet, and even snowy roads.

Designed specifically for crossovers and SUVs, the CrossContact LX20 from Continental is offered in a few smaller sizes but really comes to life in the 18” - 20” wheel categories. This is perfect for the Ford Explorer since most options have 18” or 20” wheels on them!

Where To Buy Continental Cross Contact LX 20

Discount Tire Tire Buyer

Specifications

Some specifications may vary based on the exact tire size selected.

  • Warranty: 70,000 miles
  • Max Load Capacity: 2,149 lbs
  • Max Inflation Pressure: 51 psi
  • Tread Depth: 11/32”
  • Tire Weight: 35 lbs
  • UTQG Treadwear: 680 - 740
  • UTQG Traction: A
  • UTQG Temperature: A - B
  • Traction Groove Technology enhances traction in snow
  • Comfort band under the tread reduces road noise and vibrations

FAQ

Why is this the best touring tire if it doesn’t have the longest tread life warranty in its class?

Although the CrossContact LX20 has a tread life warranty that is 10,000 miles less than the class-leading Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus, customers have typically been able to get more than 70,000 miles out of them with proper maintenance. Plus the added benefit of the comfort features, the CrossContact LX20 just edged ahead as the top option.

How do these tires perform in poor conditions?

As an all-season tire, the CrossContact LX20 will provide reliable traction and grip during all weather conditions, including rain and even light snow.

What sizes are offered?

The Continental CrossContact LX20 is offered in most sizes for bigger crossovers and most SUVs, but it has the most options available for 18” and 20” wheels. Finding the perfect set for your Ford Explorer will be a breeze.

Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 — Best Winter

As undoubtedly the leader in winter tires for just about any vehicle on the road, it might come as no surprise to see the Bridgestone Blizzak line make an appearance as the best winter tire option. For the Ford Explorer, the choice was clear — the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2.

The Bridgestone Blizzak has been leading the winter tire category for years now due to its ability, reliability, and reputation across all makes and models. When the DM-V2 was released, it instantly took over as the best SUV snow tire on the market.

With its multicell rubber compound and hydrophilic coating, the Blizzak DM-V2 pulls the top layer of water off of snow and ice and allows the shoulder blocks and biting edges to dig in and provide traction.

The sipes and grooves on the tire provide extra biting edges that also help to channel water, slush, and snow away from the contact patch of the tire to enhance both traction and stopping power.

The Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 is offered in just about every typical tire size for all wheels ranging from 15” diameters up through 22” diameters. With Explorers typically having 18” or 20” wheels, this tire is easy to find and will not disappoint.

Where To Buy Bridgestone Blizzak DMV2

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Specifications

Some specifications may vary based on the exact tire size selected.

  • Warranty: None
  • Max Load Capacity: 1,874 lbs
  • Max Inflation Pressure: 44 psi
  • Tread Depth: 13/32”
  • Tire Weight: 30 lbs
  • UTQG Treadwear: N/A
  • UTQG Traction: N/A
  • UTQG Temperature: N/A
  • NanoPro Tech tread compound increases traction in snow
  • Hardened shoulders bite into snow and ice

FAQ

What is the tread life warranty?

The Blizzak DM-V2 has no tread life warranty since it is a dedicated winter tire. This means that if you drive on it year-round, the tread will wear out very quickly. If used properly, you can expect to get at least 3-4 winter seasons out of a set.

Are these noisy to drive on?

Compared to a standard touring or highway tire, these will be a bit noisy due to the harder tread. But compared to other snow tires, the Blizzak offers a relatively quiet ride.

Do I need to add studs to these tires?

The days of adding your own studs are long past! Bridgestone has perfected the studless winter tire design, meaning you can just have these put on your car as-is and you’re ready for the snow!

Michelin Defender LTX M/S — Best Highway

Recall above when we mentioned that the Premier LTX wasn’t even Michelin’s longest tread life warranty in its class? Wellm we’ve gotten to that option now. As the best highway tire available for the Ford Explorer, we present the Michelin Defender LTX M/S.

With its 70,000-mile warranty, the Defender LTX M/S is designed to last for a long time and provide a predictable, reliable, and comfortable ride again and again every time it’s driven on.

With Michelin’s EverTread technology, the Defender LTX M/S is designed to resist wear and tear much more so than a regular tire, even under heavy loads or during severe conditions. It’s designed to provide the most consistent wear and ride out of all the tires on the market, making it the best highway tire for Ford Explorers.

With an all-season tread pattern, the Defender LTX M/S will also offer traction year-round, no matter the weather conditions. Stopping distance on wet roads and even during light snow have also been reduced.

MaxTouch Construction is used within the Defender, which reduces road noise and vibration, adding to the comfortable ride. Offered in all major tire sizes from 15” through 22” diameters, the Defender LTX M/S is the perfect option for the Ford Explorer highway warrior.

Where To Buy Michelin Defender LTX M/S

Discount Tire Tire Buyer Tire Rack

Specifications

Some specifications may vary based on the exact tire size selected.

  • Warranty: 70,000 miles
  • Max Load Capacity: 1,984 lbs
  • Max Inflation Pressure: 44 psi
  • Tread Depth: 12/32”
  • Tire Weight: 33 lbs
  • UTQG Treadwear: 720
  • UTQG Traction: A
  • UTQG Temperature: A
  • Comfortable ride, long-lasting tread compound
  • All-season tire which performs well on all road conditions

FAQ

Is this better than the Premier LTX?

The battle between the Defender LTX and Premier LTX is one that’s been raging for a while between Michelin fans. For the overall driving experience, the Premier is just barely better. But for a highway tire, the consistency and extra tread life of the Defender make it the better option in this category.

What sizes are offered?

The Defender LTX M/S is one of the most popular crossover/SUV/truck tires on the market and is offered in all sizes from 15” through 22” wheels. Your model of Ford Explorer will determine the exact size needed.

What does “M/S” mean in “Michelin Defender LTX M/S”?

The M/S stamp on the side of the tire and in its name stands for “mud and snow”. It’s an imprint imparted to tires that have met certain requirements proving their ability on poor road conditions.

Falken Ziex STZ05 — Best Performance Street

For a Ford Explorer, you likely won’t be in the market for a dedicated summer tire. But if you want a little more performance out of your tires, then the Falken Ziex STZ05 is the perfect option.

Originally designed as a high-performance tire for luxury SUVs and light trucks, the Ziex STZ05 has become a popular option for aftermarket performance tires for just about every crossover, SUV, and light truck on the road today.

With its all-season tread pattern and performance-oriented rubber compound, the Ziex STZ05 offers the best of both worlds. It provides reliable traction and stability in wet and dry road conditions while being able to offer responsive handling and stand up to aggressive cornering.

For a performance tire, the Ziex STZ05 is also designed with longevity in mind as it boasts a 50,000-mile manufacturer’s tread life warranty. It lasts for longer than a dedicated summer tire but offers more performance than a standard all-season touring tire. The Ziex STZ05 fills the gap nicely.

Offered in sizes starting at 18” and up (through 24” diameters), the Falken Ziex STZ05 is the perfect performance street tire for a Ford Explorer.

Where To Buy Falken Ziex STZ05

Discount Tire Tire Buyer

Specifications

Some specifications may vary based on the exact tire size selected.

  • Warranty: 50,000 miles
  • Max Load Capacity: 2,212 lbs
  • Max Inflation Pressure: 50 psi
  • Tread Depth: 10/32”
  • Tire Weight: 34 lbs
  • UTQG Treadwear: 460
  • UTQG Traction: A
  • UTQG Temperature: A
  • Responsive handling increases high-speed cornering and maneuverability
  • Comfortable and quiet ride

FAQ

What is the tread life warranty?

The Falken Ziex STZ05 comes with a 50,000-mile tread life warranty. If you’re thinking that seems low, remember this is a performance tire, not a touring or highway option.

Is this a summer tire?

Even though the Ziex STZ05 offers high performance including grip and handling, it’s actually an all-season tire, not a summer tire. So you can rest assured knowing that it will still perform well in less than ideal conditions throughout the year.

How does it improve performance?

Its all-season tread design and specially-engineered performance rubber compound enable the Ziex STZ05 to offer traction in all conditions as well as increased stability and control during aggressive driving and cornering.

Cooper Discoverer AT3 4S — Best All-Terrain

Anyone looking for a tire for their Ford Explorer that performs exceptionally well on the highway but can also be taken off-road at a moment’s notice needs to look no further than Cooper’s latest all-terrain — the Discoverer AT3 4S.

With a 65,000-mile tread life warranty and all-terrain tread, the AT3 4S lasts long while looking great at the same time. But there’s much more to it than just that. The 4S is loaded with technologies to improve driving performance.

Secure-Grip tread design adds five ribs to the tire for enhanced flexibility and additional support when driving over rugged terrain. At the same time, Micro-Gauge sipes increase steering response and traction for both wet and dry traction.

Aqua Vac Channels direct water away from the contact patch and enhance grip and stopping distance in wet conditions and off-road. And Cooper’s Snow Groove Technology grabs the snow and packs it into the tread itself, which actually increases traction when you need it most.

Designed for trucks and SUVs, the Discoverer AT3 4S is offered for wheel sizes ranging from 15” through 22”, making it the perfect all-terrain option for the Ford Explorer.

Where To Buy Cooper Discoverer AT3 4S

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Specifications

Some specifications may vary based on the exact tire size selected.

  • Warranty: 65,000 miles
  • Max Load Capacity: 2,337 lbs
  • Max Inflation Pressure: 44 psi
  • Tread Depth: 12.5/32”
  • Tire Weight: 39 lbs
  • UTQG Treadwear: 620
  • UTQG Traction: A
  • UTQG Temperature: B
  • Micro-Gauge sipes enhance control in all conditions
  • Snow Groove Technology increases traction in light snow

FAQ

Can this tire be used off-road?

As an all-terrain tire, the Discoverer AT3 4S can be used off-road or on-road, it’s the perfect hybrid tire. Thanks to its tough construction and hardened shoulder blocks, the AT3 4S can stand up to rugged terrain.

How is the 4S better than the old standard AT3?

One of the major advancements between the two iterations of the Discoverer AT3 is the wet-braking technology. With the new 4S, your vehicle can stop up to 20 feet shorter on wet and even snowy roads, which is a huge improvement.

What is the tread life warranty?

The Discoverer AT3 4S comes with a 65,000-mile tread life warranty. And for an all-terrain tire, that’s right up there at the front of the pack. So you can rest assured knowing that your tires are not only incredibly versatile, but they will also last you a long time.

Ironman RB-SUV — Best Temporary Spare

Temporary spare tires need to have two main qualities — reliability and affordability. When it comes to finding the best option for your Ford Explorer, the Ironman RB-SUV excels in both of those requirements.

An all-season touring tire, the RB-SUV will provide quality traction and grip in all conditions throughout the year. It’s also M+S Rated, meaning that it has met the minimum requirements to be certified for use in rain and snow. Reliability, check.

The RB-SUV is also the least expensive tire on this list, coming in at a much lower price than most of the other options. Affordability, check.

But that doesn't mean it’s cheap and isn’t a decent tire in its own right. The above features combined with circumferential grooves that channel water away from the contact patch and a solid center rib to provide better stability make the RB-SUV one of the best tires at its price point.

With all-wheel drive vehicles (like most Explorers), it’s important to have a full-size spare instead of riding around on a donut spare if something happens. For use as a temporary spare, the RB-SUV is a perfect choice for Ford Explorers.

Where To Buy Ironman RB SUV

Tire Buyer

Specifications

Some specifications may vary based on the exact tire size selected.

  • Warranty: None
  • Max Load Capacity: 2,404 lbs
  • Max Inflation Pressure: 44 psi
  • Tread Depth: 11.6/32”
  • Tire Weight: 32 lbs
  • UTQG Treadwear: 460
  • UTQG Traction: A
  • UTQG Temperature: B
  • Circumferential and lateral groove keep water away and improve braking
  • Stiff shoulders enhance cornering and stability

FAQ

What makes this a good temporary spare?

When it comes to a temporary spare, you want two main things: affordable and reliable. The Ironman RB-SUV does well in both of those categories. It isn’t exactly a performance-oriented tire, but that’s not what we’re recommending it for.

What is the mileage warranty?

The Ironman RB-SUV does not have any mileage warranty on it from the manufacturer. But keep in mind we are only suggesting you use this tire as a temporary spare. In that case, the mileage warranty really shouldn’t come into play.

What if I don’t have a full-size spare?

For any all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle, it’s important to have a full side spare to avoid damaging the drivetrain — especially the transfer case — in the event that you need to drive on the spare. So if you don’t have a full-size spare in your Explorer, we recommend finding a cheap wheel and putting the RB-SUV on it just to be safe.

Hankook Kinergy GT — OEM Tire

The Hankook Kinergy GT is a grand touring tire that offers all-season performance and a long-lasting, comfortable ride year-round. As far as OEM tires go, the Kinergy GTs that come on Explorers are actually quality tires.

Many times, vehicle makers will choose the cheapest tire they can that still gets the job done so they can keep their cost down and make more money. But Ford did their customers a solid with the Hankooks. Many Explorer owners actually swear by these tires and just go back to them when the original ones wear out.

The Kinergy GT was designed with durability and reliability in mind, with its tread compound engineered to last. Many customers get more than the 70,000-mile warranty out of these tires if they’re maintained properly.

With its circumferential grooves and sipes in all directions, the Kinergy GT channels water out and away from the center of the tire, reducing the chance of hydroplaning and helping to keep control on wet roads.

As the OEM tires on many models and trim levels of the Ford Explorer, you don’t need to worry about the right size being available. They come on the Explorer from the factory, so it’ll be a breeze to get a new set put on!

Where To Buy Hankook Kinergy GT

Tire Rack

Specifications

Some specifications may vary based on the exact tire size selected.

  • Warranty: 70,000 miles
  • Max Load Capacity: 1,929 lbs
  • Max Inflation Pressure: 51 psi
  • Tread Depth: 10.1/32”
  • Tire Weight: 30 lbs
  • UTQG Treadwear: 500 - 700
  • UTQG Traction: A-B
  • UTQG Temperature: A
  • Circumferential groove provide reliable hydroplane resistance
  • Affordable option that performs well for its price

FAQ

Should I put OEM tires back on my Explorer?

You never have to replace the OEM tires with direct replacements on any vehicle, including your Ford Explorer. Oftentimes, the manufacturer will put the cheapest tire that meets their requirements on as OEM equipment to bring their cost down. The Kinergy GT isn’t a bad tire, but there are far better options out there.

Can I change tire sizes after the OEM ones wear out?

You always can change the tire size on your Explorer if you want to. Some people choose to go a bit bigger to take up more of the wheel well, for example. But these days, much of the car is tuned to OEM parts and sizes, so things such as the odometer might be a bit off with a different size.

What is the tread life warranty?

The tread life warranty on the Hankook Kinergy GT is 70,000 miles, which is actually really good for an OEM tire. They should easily last for a few years on average after buying the vehicle new.

Ford Explorer Tire Sizes

Throughout much of the past decade, the Ford Explorer has had many of the same tire sizes, with most models and trim levels coming with 18” or 20” wheels. By far the most common sizes for a Ford Explorer are 245/60R18 and 255/50R20, but those aren’t the only ones. The Ford Explorer has had 6 different OEM tire sizes over the past decade to keep in mind:

  • 245/65R17
  • 245/60R18
  • 255/65R18
  • 255/50R20
  • 255/55R20
  • 275/45R21

If you aren’t entirely sure what the tire size on your Ford Explorer is, don’t worry! Here’s a complete list of every model and trim of Explorer in the past decade (2011-2020).

About THE AUTHOR

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

Read More About Charles Redding